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Ken Thompson

UNIX creators Ken Thompson (Left) and Dennis Ritchie (Right)

Kenneth Thompson (born 1943) is an US computer scientist, notable for his influence on UNIX. He was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. He received in Bachelor's degree and Master's degree, both in electrical engineering, from UC Berkeley.

In 1969, while at Bell Labs, Thompson and Dennis Ritchie were the principal creators of the Unix operating system. Thompson also wrote the B programming language, a precursor to Dennis Ritchie's "C", one of the world's most commonly used programming languages. Later, while still at Bell Labs, he and Rob Pike were the principal creators of the Plan 9 operating system.

He also wrote programs for generating the complete enumeration of chess endings, for all 4, 5, and currently 6-piece endings. Using these, a chess-playing computer program can play perfectly once a position stored in them is reached.

Thompson and Ritchie jointly received the Turing Award in 1983 "for their development of generic operating systems theory and specifically for the implementation of the UNIX operating system".

Thompson's style of programming has influenced others, notably in the terseness of his expressions and a preference for clear statements.

Thompson retired from Bell Labs on December 1, 2000.